17 – Nigerian
I was born in Nigeria, and I came here (London, England) when I was three. We moved around quite a bit and then we settled in Edgeware. The school that I went to was in the ‘hood’ and growing up I had influences from there, influences from my parents which kind of make-up who I am.
I see so many assumptions that people make, like “he’s from this area so he must be like this” or “he’s black so he behaves like this”, but I am someone who knows how to articulate themselves and people are quite shocked when they speak to me, to see a young black boy speak so well. The way I see it everyone really is the same. A lot of differences people create between themselves are man-made. They are social constructs. For example, race and religion, which cause so many problems. I see so many different species of one animal, like a bird for example, but with humans there’s only one and I think there is a reason for that.
I’ve always been conscious of my blackness, my parents made sure of it. The thing is if they leave you to just go along, you’re going to lose yourself and you need to understand that because you have been cast as something different, you need to respond to that in the right way. It makes you a stronger person. I won’t lie, there was a time when it would get to me; me and my guys would do something in school and get in trouble for it but when the white kids would do it, nothing would happen. But then I realised that it getting to me was starting to change who I am as a person, so I had to let it go.
I’m now rooted enough in myself, I understand myself enough not to care what people think, but I know for a fact when people look at me, they make assumptions. I remember at the start of Woodhouse, people were scared to talk to me and I was like, “what? I’m a nice guy!” In terms of the future, I’m scared of the uncertainty. Originally, I wanted to be a lawyer, in fact, I will study that at Uni, but I’ve also realised I need to do something I’m passionate about. When you feel passionate about something, you’re more likely to progress in it. I’m passionate about music, so that’s something I want to go into.